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Melvin Sokolsky was born in 1933 in New York City. At the age of 21, Sokolsky was invited by prolific art director, Henry Wolf, to join the staff of Harper’s Bazaar in New York and over the years added Esquire, McCalls, Newsweek, and Show magazines to his growing list of editorial clients. Often cited as one of the great editorial fashion photographers of our time, it was his iconic “fashion bubbles” that captivated the fashion world. In 1962, he took inspiration from the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch and photographed models floating above bemused residents of Paris inside of a clear plastic bubble. Sokolsky’s innovative Bubble Series anticipated the change of language that was to later emerge in fashion photography, combining surrealism and the world of high fashion, with a nod to street photography’s increasing popularity. This series is widely credited for launching the trend of bold, artistic visions within fashion photography and has been an inspiration for many fashion photographers working today. The images graced the pages of Harper’s with great fanfare and remain some of the most influential fashion images ever produced. That same year, Melvin photographed the entire editorial content of McCall’s, the first time this had been attempted or accomplished.
In the late 1960s, Melvin began directing television commercials and also served as the cameraman for many of them. His commercials earned him 25 Clio Awards, and numerous other awards, including the “Director’s Guild” nomination. Several of his commercials reside in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1972, he presented the Academy of Arts and Sciences with a computerized zoom lens he had designed, which subsequently earned him an Academy Award nomination. In 1986, his images were included in a major exhibition produced by the Victoria and Albert Museum titled, “Shots of Style: A Retrospective of the World’s Major Fashion Photographers.”
Sometimes “thinking outside the box” can be a frightening thing, especially when you are a young photographer like Melvin Sokolsky in the early 1960s when he created the iconic “fashion bubbles.” Met with confusion, skepticism, and some ridicule, Sokolsky brushed it all aside to develop some of the most iconic images in fashion photography history. As an Explorer of Light, Melvin shared his pioneering mindset and his iconic images, with students, young filmmakers, and the creative community at large.
Sokolsky’s work can be found in the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum, The Getty, The Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among many others.
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Isabella Garrucho Fine Art.